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Scouting the enemy: Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray is currently out for the year with a torn ACL, so in steps Colt McCoy. How will the Broncos fare against the college legend?

Arizona Cardinals v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The last time these two teams met was back in 2018 when the Broncos routed the Cardinals 45-10 following a Von Miller promise to “kick their a**.” This game was not close and arguably one of the best offensive performances since the 2013 Broncos.

Everyone got involved in scoring - Case Keenum, Royce Freeman, Phillip Lindsay, Emmanuel Sanders, and Courtland Sutton all had touchdowns. And then the defense got in on the action with two pick-sixes, including one from linebacker Todd Davis and another from Chris Harris Jr. The Broncos even tried some trickery with Sanders throwing a touchdown.

Defensively for the Broncos, Davis, CHJ, and Bradley Roby all had interceptions. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb each had two sacks. The defense really bullied Josh Rosen as he could not do anything.

Cardinals’ offseason moves

Key gains: WR Marquise Brown, OL Will Hernandez

Key losses: RB Eno Benjamin, WR Christian Kirk, RB Chase Edmonds, DE Chandler Jones,

2022 NFL Draft: round two: (55) TE Trey McBride; round three: (87) DE Cameron Thomas, (100) DE Myjai Sanders; round six: (201) RB Keaontay Ingram, (215) OG Lecitus Smith; round seven: (244) CB Christian Matthew, (244) OG Marquis Hayes, (256) LB Jesse Luketa.

Cardinals 2022 season so far

The Cardinals have had a pretty disappointing season so far, currently 4-9 and sitting third in the NFC West. Many analysts have their current head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, on the hot seat too. The Cardinals got hit with a big blow in the offseason with their star wide receiver Deandre Hopkins being suspended for the first six weeks of the season after being caught taking PEDs.

Quarterback Kyler Murray was injured early in the game against the Patriots Monday night, and an MRI confirmed the next day that he tore his ACL and is out for the year. University of Texas football legend Colt McCoy will take over the starting job. The Cardinals will have to be led by their top weapons - James Conner, Hopkins, and Marquise Brown. Through 10 games this year, Conner has 561 yards on the ground and 200 in the air for a total of six touchdowns. Hopkins has 56 catches for 653 yards and three touchdowns in seven games, and Brown has 53 catches for 565 yards and also three touchdowns.

Defensively the Cardinals are led by safety Budda Baker and edge rusher J.J. Watt. Baker leads the team in tackles with 95 and also has four pass break-ups, one interception, and one forced fumble. Watt currently leads the team in sacks. The Cardinals' defense does have a lot of really good pieces, including corner Marco Wilson, who has eight pass breakups and one pick-six, defensive end Zach Allen who has 5.5 sacks, and Isaiah Simmons who leads the team in interceptions with two.

Tanner’s three keys to victory

  1. Attack Colt McCoy

The Broncos will have to disrupt McCoy, whether it is simply hitting him, getting a sack on him, or even getting in his face the Broncos' pass rushers will play a big part in this game. In McCoy’s two of his three games has had a QBR less than 50, and was sacked nine times. The Broncos could be getting Randy Gregory back for this game, which will be huge for the pass rush.

2. Get creative on offense

The Broncos' wide receiver room is badly banged up with Sutton, Hamler, and Hinton all injured so the wideouts alongside Jerry Jeudy will most likely be Brandon Johnson and Jalen Virgil. The Broncos’ rush game was also not that good last game rushing 19 times for only 106 yards. We will have to see how the Broncos' offensive game plan plays out but they have to get creative and try to catch the Cardinal defense off-guard.

3. Win the battle in the trenches

Games are won and lost in the trenches, so the defensive line will have to win its battles, but probably more importantly the offensive line will have to win its battles. Injuries have hit the offensive line pretty hard, and therefore they have not had a pretty season, outside of Quinn Meinerz who has been playing really good. The boys on the offensive line will have to step up and keep whoever is under center on his feet.

Tanner’s prediction

It looks unlikely that Russell Wilson will play, giving Brett Rypien the start. WIth the backup QB, and the many injuries to the wideouts, the passing game will struggle pretty badly as Dulchich and Jeudy will be the main targets. We could see them have nice games but that will be about it in the passing game. The offensive line will also struggle, meaning the running attack will struggle. With Netane Muti at the Raiders, there is a possibility Luke Wattenburg gets a fair amount of playing time, which could be problematic if he plays like he did against the Chiefs.

The Broncos' defense I believe will shut down Colt McCoy and the passing game but their Achilles heel is the run defense.

James Conner will be the reason why the Cardinals win the game, 17-6.